Countdown to Breakaway
Guest Writers are not employed, compensated or governed by TD, opinions and statements are from the specific writer directly
As we enter the final countdown to the launch of Norwegian Cruise Line’s new vessel the Norwegian Breakaway, Cruise News sat down with Nick Wilkinson, the company’s business development director to discuss the ships new innovations and what the day’s inaugural celebrations will hold. For agents interested in attending the inauguration you can win a place with Cruise News to enter click here.
Can you tell us about the inauguration?
When agents come down to the ship we want them to do what we call ‘Engage and Reward’. It’s a programme we’re launching with the ship itself. However, before agents even board the vessel we have arranged for them to be met by a number of partners from our destinations – both long and short haul. That’s an extra for them away from the day’s Engage and Reward activities. This is for them to learn more about the countries our ships are visiting. We’ve developed that from feedback generated by our agents who know everything there is to know about our vessels but are being asked more and more about the destinations themselves. So agents can talk to someone authoritative about pre and post stays in Alaska for example. It’s a great opportunity.
So that’s before the agents even get onboard the ship….
Exactly. And we’ve got something very special for agents that do come on the day, which is Engage and Reward. There has been a lot of talk over the last four or five months about agent commissions and we’re running a programme which is very unique. Across the ship we’ll be running a series of forums to educate the trade on various aspects of the ship – when they enter a forum they will swiped as they attend and that attendance will be logged. That will then go onto their record and they will earn bonus commission rates for a limited time after the inaugural. Each forum will have a commission value. There will also be places you can go on the ship and which will add to your commission too. It’s a way of engaging with the day and a reward for doing so.
And when will details of the inaugural be released?
We will look to have all of the information out between seven and ten days from now.
How are the rest of the preparations going?
Brilliantly. We’ll be looking to have 3,200 guests to join us on the day. The trade has been very supportive and we’re now working with our partners to finalise the guest list. We want it to be as much of a freestyle event as possible. Partners will be able to pre-book their entertainment and meal times too – as if they were cruising on the ship.
So during the day there will be a series of forums – what are the plans for the evening?
In the evening we really want to take guests deep into the freestyle concept. They can choose where they want to dine and book accordingly. Whether that’s at Cirque Dreams where they can have their dinner at the big top with Jungle Fantasy our new show or see Rock of Ages in the main theatre. We want them to choose their own days. There will also be the opportunities for agents to meet their business development managers and key members of staff from – they will know where they are due to be and at what time.
Away from the inauguration, what is the extra capacity going to mean for UK agents?
We want to get across what cruising like a Norwegian means in the market place. That’s key for us. There are so many exceptional cruise lines within the industry today – each one has its own individual characteristics. Ours is a freestyle resort and relaxed atmosphere onboard. That’s why it’s so important we engage with the trade. There are 28 dining options on the ship so it’s very important.
We keep hearing a lot about the innovations which are going to be present on the Breakaway. Can you go into more detail?
Have you got a good couple of hours? I’ll mention the biggest innovations as I see them. The Waterfront is my personal favourite. It’s hard to believe that no one has ever given their main specialist dining restaurants indoor and outdoor seating. Then there is also The Plank – that extends eight foot over the side of the ship and is part of the sports area. Passengers can walk out there – in a harness – and have their photograph taken! We also have world class New York style entertainment; our ice bar with everything constructed of ice this time round and the world’s first ever salt room at sea for salt therapy.
It’s very much a family oriented ship then?
Absolutely. The water park is fantastic and we’ve also some exceptional kids’ clubs. Our family offering is something we definitely want to get across to the agents who sometimes miss just how good the value is on family cruising. There’s flexibility of dining, entertainment and then the family accommodation is very important. It’s close to the kids facilities and have interconnecting cabins for larger families.